The Tropics: A Brief History of an Environmental Imaginary
This chapter explores the long history of the tropics as a western environmental imaginary, with a particular focus on its emergence as a modern environmental category. It examines how theorists came to view the tropics as a discrete and sharply delineated geographical and biological space with medical and racial implications. While highlighting the real material differences between tropical and temperate regions, the chapter focuses on how temperate zone thinkers constructed the tropics in imperial and environmental terms. It argues that the tropics as an environmental category needs to be understood for its significant historical and cultural content, and not simply deployed as an objective descriptor of a singular geographical and environmental space.